Depression: Journal Excerpts

 

christian-mental-illnessTARGET AUDIENCE: CHRISTIANS
The graphic to the left actually has a specific meaning. The face is partially hidden behind a curtain because in many churches and with many Christians, there still is a stigma attached to mental illness. The face is sad because there is really not much joy and happiness associated with battling a mental illness. The cross is superimposed on the face to symbolize the shadow of Christianity, not fully supportive – yet – but mental illness exists in the shadows in too many churches. The word Christian is in pink symbolizing how Christians are supposed to feel – in the pink. Mental illness is in a font that is broken and difficult to read (it’s not your eyes) because the vision from the perspective of mental illness is often distorted and the world is difficult to see.

I feel that inserting a preface of some kind is appropriate. Millions of people battle depression. Christians, people who have chosen to follow Jesus Christ and make Him their Savior, are among those millions. For those of us who are Christians, we can experience a double helping of shame, guilt, remorse, and anxiety because we now know the Great Healer, the One who makes all humanity whole, but we remain broken, wounded, grieving, and unhealthy. We battle dysfunctional behaviors, inappropriate coping mechanisms, which only deepen our despair and cause us to question our faith in God and lose hope in experiencing the peace, joy, and happiness that Christians ought to feel. We can feel like outsiders looking at the “normal” Christians joyfully participating in a life that is full and free, but we do not feel that freedom or experience the joy. Well, not until we experience the healing of wounds that cause us to seek inappropriate coping behaviors that only deepen the problems in life.

The following are excerpts from my personal Healing Care Journal. In the actual written journal, I often use purple to write about my feelings. It isn’t about theology, or thinking (get over it Baptists), or being right or wrong. It is about how I feel at any given moment in time. These are excerpts, so you are not going to get a complete story here. I am not going to share the deepest thoughts, the most personal thoughts, in a public blog. The journey that I am on at the present time is one of discovery and healing. 

November 10 11:11am Home I am so deeply depressed today I don’t even feel like writing this journal. I finally gave up on Facebook and Twitter. Both are phenomenal wastes of time. No one reads anything I write on them. I am totally invisible and irrelevant. My schedule — well I don’t have a schedule — is completely blank. I am no idea what it feels like to be busy. God can do many things but He can’t take someone like me and give me a meaningful, active schedule. He can’t make me into someone other people want or desire. He can’t make someone popular or in demand. He doesn’t control humanity like that. I have no idea why He continues to give me breath and causes my heart to continue beating. I have no skills, no talents, no abilities anyone else seeks or demands. No one calls me for anything. No one ever did.
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You have no idea how desperately I crave some kind of meaning in my life. No one can know how desperately I thirst for even a day of frantic busyness that has meaning. Perhaps it would be the epitome of cruelty if I did have that one day — and only one day. It would probably plunge me into deeper despair and depression knowing that it could never happen again. While I crave meaningful busyness, I loathe people who are so busy they have no time to minister to people who are in need. I have encountered many, many people over the years who tell me they really, really passionately want to have an impact on people for God … the guy who was speaking ran out of time and had to take a call or go to the next meeting, but he desperately wants God to use him. People who claim they don’t have enough time need to be honest. They are really deplorable time managers and won’t admit it. Of course, it is fashionable to be frantically busy and not have time for yourself. I don’t want to be like that either. I just want meaning in my life beyond being the guy who hauls trash and cleans up the kitchen because my time isn’t valuable. **********************************************
November 11 2016 11:11am Home I am seriously depressed and there is now no lifeline. I am not sure what fate awaits Art, but he has chosen to leave private practice. As of this writing no decision has been made by the College (of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario), which is good news. [Name of Person] called this morning. Just like every other church-based pastoral care venture I have encountered the person who is supposed to be doing the work spends an inordinate amount of time in meetings. Churches love meetings. The more meetings the better even though they swear they loathe them. They have meetings on how to conduct better meetings. There are training meetings, info meetings, prayer meetings, update meetings, fellowship meetings, meetings to schedule meetings and the list goes on endlessly. This is not unique to [my church]. Every church has this thick layer of bureaucracy. I really hope I never render myself so ineffective as to become a cog in that huge bureaucratic wheel.
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November 12 2016 12:19pm
Home This feeling of useless irrelevance isn’t going away. *********************************************
Explanatory Note: When I was much younger, one of my relatives used to bemoan getting old. In my youth, I couldn’t comprehend her lament about being “useless” or “irrelevant”. In those days, our society quite frequently shunted older people aside in our frenzy and obsession with youth. Today, many older people find value and meaning in second careers after they retire from their primary career. People who have never worked or who do not need or do not want to work find meaning in volunteer work. Seniors in our society are recognized by more and more people as a valuable asset rather than being useless or irrelevant. For me, though, finding meaning or relevance has been a lifelong pursuit. I no longer work and as I head toward age 65 when I officially “retire” or go on pension, not that I have investments or even a company pension behind me to sustain me in my senior years, I am having much more of a struggle seeing myself as useful or relevant to anyone. My schedule, as I noted earlier, is largely empty. Monday feels like Thursday and Tuesday may as well be Saturday as each day is exactly the same. At times, I am not entirely sure which day of the week it is until I check the news because every day is like any other day. Weekends and holidays have little meaning to me because they are just like any other day. So, I struggle with this feeling of useless irrelevance. Head knowledge and theology only carry us so far. God also designed us as being capable of feeling and being able to identify our feelings. If the way we feel does not jive with our head knowledge we are in a space of cognitive dissonance. For me, that is always a place of darkness and despair.

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